Every football club has a cult hero. That player who isn’t necessarily the best at anything and usually lacks quality in a specific department but for some reason is universally loved by a fanbase.
For Liverpool, that player is undoubtedly Divock Origi.
To say the Belgian was on the periphery of the first-team at the beginning of last season would be an understatement. Origi had been relegated to U23 duty and had to wait until November to even make a first-team appearance.
But then came the Merseyside derby; coming off the bench as seemingly a final throw of the dice, Origi managed to capitalise on Jordan Pickford’s error to win the game in the 96th minute, scoring his first Liverpool goal since May 2017 and becoming the most unlikely of heroes.
It didn’t stop there. Two goals in the famous Champions League comeback victory over Barcelona followed, showing great awareness and technique to convert Alexander-Arnold’s quick corner and confirming Liverpool’s miraculous return to the Champions League final.
And then came the final. With the game in the balance, Origi fired an inch perfect shot past Hugo Lloris and made sure Liverpool would become Champions of Europe for a historic sixth time; if it was somehow in doubt before, June 1st in Madrid was the night Origi officially marked himself as a cult hero.
A new and improved contract wasn’t just a thank you, it was deserved; Origi seemed like he could genuinely offer something off the bench with his raw speed and physical prowess and give defenders a fresh challenge late on in games.
Yet unfortunately, it hasn’t quite materialised like that and with a heavy heart, it may be best if Origi departs Anfield permanently this summer.
You can’t dispute that Origi certainly has positive attributes to his game; he’s generally an effective finisher, evidenced by his precise finish against Everton back in December. He’s also highly useful when driving against leggy defences due to his direct movement.
But then there are the downsides. Origi’s primary role in this Liverpool side is obvious: to be an option off the bench to run at defences, chip in with a few goal contributions and have the quality to fill in for any of the front three in case of an injury.
It’s questionable if he does any of these to the standard required for a side operating at the level we are right now.
In the Premier League this season, Origi has three goals. Considering two of those goals came in the match against Everton back in December, he has one other than that (on the opening day against Norwich). Therefore, off the bench, where he is normally utilised, Origi has managed zero goals. That simply isn’t good enough for a team of our calibre.
There lies the main problem with Origi: the drop off in quality between him and the rest of the front three is just too large.
Take the recent FA Cup clash with Chelsea for example; when Origi had the chance to start and reflect his quality, he spent the majority of the game running into blind alleys or often going invisible. The same can be said when he replaced Mane at half-time in the first-leg against Atletico Madrid where the drop-off was more than noticeable. For every moment of good work, he outdoes it with moments of frustration.
In fairness to Origi, he’s not helped by Klopp’s insistency to deploy him on the left-wing. He’s clearly much better when operating through the middle, as he evidenced against Everton when he notched two goals, but even so, he can tend to stick out like a sore thumb when playing alongside the starting regulars.
With the constant links to Timo Werner not going away, the German is a more accurate representation of what we need. With 27 goals for RB Leipzig already this season, Werner could easily play alongside or instead of one of the front three without any worries about there being a considerable drop off.
As the current Champions League holders and Premier League champions in all but name, that’s the standard we need to be operating at right now and Werner fits the profile.
With regular, consistent game time (hopefully up top rather than on the left), Origi could be a very effective option for a Europa League challenging side. Still only 24, he has plenty of time to cement himself as a top-level forward and should an offer of around £25-30m come in, we’d be silly not to at least consider it.
Whatever happens, Origi fully deserves the adulation and respect of the Kop; he’s more than just a cult hero. He’s a Liverpool legend.